A handout photo made available by the Chigi Palace Press Office shows Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (L) meets with Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky (R) on the sidelines of the third meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) Summit at the Congress Hall in Granada, Spain, 05 October 2023. EFE-EPA/FILIPPO ATTILI / CHIGI PALACE PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Zelenskyy shifts focus on EU leadership as US support remains uncertain

By Marcel Gascón

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky arrive for the opening ceremony of the third European Political Community (EPC) Summit at the Congress Hall in Granada, Spain, 05 October 2023. EFE-EPA/PETER KLAUNZER

Kyiv, Oct 7 (EFE).- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is betting on the European Union (EU) and its key member states after recent developments in the US Congress that have raised questions about the level of assistance Ukraine has received from Washington.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (C) speaks during the opening ceremony of the third meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) Summit at the Congress Hall in Granada, Spain, 05 October 2023. EFE-EPA/PETER KLAUNZER

Some analysts argue Ukraine has limited alternatives, with Zelenskyy articulating this strategy at European Political Community summit on Thursday in Granada, Spain.

He warned that Russia would be the biggest beneficiary of the “political storm” in the United States, alluding to Ukraine’s exclusion from extended budgets approved in Congress and the removal of its supporter, Kevin McCarthy, as House speaker.

McCarthy was removed after eight pro-Trump Congressmen, opposed to continuing aid to Kyiv, voted against him.

Zelenskyy emphasized that Europe possessed its “own power potential and global role,” urging EU leaders to defend Western “values” regardless of developments in the US.

While Zelenskyy received strong support and commitments for arms shipments in Granada, relations with the Eurosceptic Polish government have cooled.

Poland initially supported Kyiv at the start of the war when France and Germany were hesitant to break ties with Russia and assist Ukraine.

The emergence of a robust and assertive Ukraine as a political player appeared to herald a new military and diplomatic alignment in Eastern Europe with Poland and the Baltics, supported by the US and post-Brexit UK.

However, this alliance is shifting to favor a Berlin-Kyiv-Paris axis that enhances Ukraine’s EU prospects.

Zelenskyy’s recent engagements with the EU signal a promising future for the new geopolitical alignment.

However, as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, cautioned in Granada, the EU lacks the military and financial resources to offset a potential US withdrawal from the pro-Kyiv coalition.

The first test of the reinvigorated relationship between Ukraine and the EU may come before the year’s end when member states decide if Kyiv has implemented the necessary reforms to begin membership talks.

A single member’s vote against it would result in negative. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has suggested it is unfeasible to integrate a country at war with uncertain control over its territory or population.

Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian leaders have pledge to make all the required reforms for negotiations.

An EU rejection could lead to a situation like the NATO summit in Vilnius in July when Ukraine did not receive expected membership guarantees.

Zelenskyy’s criticisms of the alliance had to be moderated due to discomfort among allies who viewed his stance as maximalist and unfair.

His distancing from Warsaw and doubts stemming from Trumpist reluctance to honor US commitments have sparked criticism from Ukrainian opposition.

Oleksí Goncharenko, a prominent parliamentarian from the party of former President Petro Poroshenko, has criticized the Zelenskyy for overly personalized diplomatic efforts, which he believes reduced effectiveness in convincing skeptical Republicans.

Goncharenko advocates two aspects: emphasizing the economic benefits the US could gain from a Ukrainian victory and Ukraine’s potential to become a stronger than the United Kingdom military ally. EFE

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